If you love wearing many hats — and it can truly be energizing — then a people lead might well be the role for you. From the entire employee journey to actioning the strategy behind the growth of the entire company, people lead is a position that enables a company’s scalability through a focus on building fantastic teams.
Recently on Sales Engagement, I chatted with Alya Dikouchine, People Lead at 3S Money, about scaling a company by listening to and understanding people.
Join us as we discuss:
- Alya’s joy in the classic many-hat scenario
- Creating an at-work support network of people
- Actionable ways to demonstrate listening to your employees
- The importance of feedback in people lead success
- Culture, retention, and facilitating individual growth
Let’s get right to the conversation!
About the people lead role
The people lead is responsible for the entire employee journey… from hiring at the very start, training soft and hard skills, training and support — and more.
Alya describes it as “actioning the strategy behind the growth of the company.” You have to grow in a balanced way that doesn’t mean inflating your sales team without growing your other teams, too.
Change, especially change that happens quickly, can be quite scary.
It’s up to the people lead to make sure growth happens safely.
One way that Alya has been making that happen is by creating structure within departments (for example, creating transaction monitoring teams and onboarding teams within compliance).
While she did describe the people lead role as wearing many hats, she also said she finds it exciting. “Sometimes it’s really amazing to wear many hats, getting involved in different projects and supporting different teams,” Alya said.
Keeping a people focus
“Our main focus of why people love us is our people,” Alya said.
A people lead needs to make sure to keep a people focus.
A supportive network
People leads must absolutely be intent on understanding and supporting teams.
Transparency means that people can trust you and you can trust people when things are tough. (This helps with retention, too.)
Check in frequently to create an active listening space. Take the time to get to know team members personally so that your rapport means you hear about issues when they do arise.
Beyond the classic party-throwing, take time to remember people’s accomplishments both inside and outside of work — whether crushing numbers or becoming engaged.
This makes employees know that you are actually listening, as well as taking the time to celebrate what they have done well.
“It’s not just listening for five minutes, and then out the other ear,” Alya said.
Build internal relationships
People like to stay in the loop — and get to know each other at the same time.
Initiatives like the informal get-together “Buzz Thursday” or consistent company and department meetings ensure that conversation and communication remain top of mind.
Hiring & the feedback culture
Alya oversees hiring across all departments at 3S Money. Skill set matters, but so does culture fit.
“The interview goes both ways,” she explained. “I like to feel like someone is really getting as much as they can from me to understand about our company or culture, whether they would enjoy it.”
The worst thing you can do when hiring is not provide enough clarity. That sets candidates up for failure, especially when it comes to culture.
We mentioned transparency above, and it also applies here even before candidates become employees. “We want people to feel like they have this long journey ahead of them in this amazing career where they can have the backing and the trust of everyone else in the company to make it their own,” Alya said.
Attracting people who want to act like an owner to flourish in their role means laying that expectation out at the very beginning of the conversation.
Along the way, ownership also means feedback.
“Feedback runs all the way through to the founders, all the way through to new starters,” Alya pointed out.
When the culture of the company is hungry for improvement, that engages people in taking ownership of their achievements.
Notably, this aspect of culture is successful when it defines the leaders most of all. Alya shared that the CEO and CFO recently wrapped up an investor meeting by asking for feedback about how they could do better.
The bottom line: Holding onto the values of transparency, communication, and feedback as people lead are essential as you scale.
Check out this resource we mentioned during the podcast:
- The Cult of We by Eliot Brown and Maureen Farrell
Get in touch with Alya on LinkedIn or at 3S Money.
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